Camille Parmesan: ‘Some species need human help to survive’

In the 21st century, some species might need human help to survive, according to biologist Camille Parmesan. “Instead of being reactive and just dealing with populations going extinct right and left,” she said, “we should help them move and help them shift along with the climate when they can no longer do it for themselves.”

In the 21st century, some species need human help to survive, according to biologist Camille Parmesan.

Camille Parmesan: The mountaintop and polar species don’t have anywhere to go. They’re very likely to die off. Even ones that live at lower elevation, if you’re living in a tiny nature reserve – and you’re surrounded by cornfields – it’s very difficult for you to move – to track the climate as it’s changing.

Parmesan said conservationists might need to help.

Camille Parmesan: So as a conservation biologist, we know we can’t save all biodiversity. But there is a certain set of species – that are again, very restricted, have barriers to movement – that we consider at high risk from climate change. And I think it’s these that we need to start considering some fairly radical approaches to how to preserve them over the next hundred years.

She proposes introducing species to new environments, before it’s too late.

Camille Parmesan: Instead of being reactive and just dealing with populations going extinct right and left, we should start placing them in advance, or as the climate is shifting. We should help them move and help them shift along with the climate when they can no longer do it for themselves.

Our thanks to:
Camille Parmesan
Integrative Biology
University of Texas
Austin, TX

Image: Endangered Mexican Wolf (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Lindsay Patterson